Urban infrastructure and system disruptions: the next stage of narco-violence?

In the summer of 2007, a number of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) destroyed gas pipelines in the states of Guanajuato, Querétaro and Veracruz. The explosions –vindicated by the Marxist guerrilla group Popular Revolutionary Army- did not cause human casualties, but inflicted serious economic damage worth 150 million dollars.

On May 13, 2010 several electricity blackouts affected 13 out of 16 Mexico City’s districts, altering normal life in one of the world’s biggest cities. The Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME in Spanish) is being accused by government authorities as the group behind the attacks.

While these attacks have been political-motivated so far, they present a serious challenge to Mexico’s National Security in the context of the war against drugs and organized crime.

Let me be clear on this. Given the enormous availability of resources among Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO’s), the use of system disruption techniques would have devastating effects.

In MXSECURITY we believe that there is a possibility that DTO’s could eventually attack critical urban infrastructure within Mexico’s most important cities, targeting electric power lines, sewage and potable water pipes or telephone/internet communication hubs.

Local governments (state, city levels) should start thinking of anti-disruption tactics.

To learn more on system disruption experiences I recommend John Robb’s book “Brave New War, the next stage of terrorism and the end of globalization”. You can also follow his blog on. For a more profound analysis regarding urban-guerrilla disruption tactics you should read “Swarming on the Battlefield”, by the US think tank RAND.

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